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We’ll Help You Discover Some of the Best Mysteries on BritBox

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, The Bay, Jonathan Creek, Inspector Morse

Anyone who loves a twisting, turning British crime drama will undoubtedly have a BritBox subscription. Whether you’re in the mood for something classic, something light-hearted, or something properly dark and chilling, BritBox has it all.

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Now, here at The Mary Sue, we’ve consistently sung the praises of gripping, feature-length crime dramas like Endeavour, Vera, and Shetland, all of which are available on BritBox. We’ve also celebrated the cozier murder mysteries that the Brits are famous for producing, like Beyond Paradise and Father Brown (both of which, incidentally, are also available on BritBox). But there are so many more mysteries to discover, and we wanted to highlight a few additional titles that are also undeniably worth sinking your teeth into. Everything listed here is currently streaming on BritBox. So, what are you waiting for?

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (2022)

Lucy Boynton and Will Poulter in Why Didn't They Ask Evans

Directed, written, and produced by legendary British talent Hugh Laurie (Blackadder, House M.D.), Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? is a witty, charming, and fun adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s legendary murder mystery novels. When the vicar’s son, Bobby Jones (Will Poulter), stumbles upon the broken body of a dying man, the victim’s confounding final words lead Bobby and his unlikely socialite friend, Lady Frankie Derwent (Lucy Boynton), on a journey to solve the mystery of his death. As this miniseries is (sadly) only three episodes long, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? is perfect for a rainy-day binge.

Scott & Bailey (2011-2016)

Suranne Jones as DC Bailey and Lesley Sharp as DC Scott in Scott & Bailey

Led by Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp, Scott & Bailey follows the lives of two female detectives who work within the Major Incident Team in Manchester. Though the mysteries are always gripping and sometimes downright heart-wrenching, Scott & Bailey also focuses on the detectives’ personal lives and the struggle to maintain a work-life balance in such a demanding job. Scott & Bailey was created by award-winning writer Sally Wainwright (Gentleman Jack, Happy Valley), so if you’re familiar with her work, Scott & Bailey is definitely worth a look.

Luther (2010-2019)

Idris Elba in Luther as DCI John Luther

Sure, everyone’s heard of Luther. But have you actually watched it? It is completely and utterly worth your time. Idris Elba shines in this gritty, dramatic BBC detective series as DCI John Luther, a brilliant yet reckless London detective hellbent on cracking the case, no matter the cost. Elba’s performance is enough reason to watch the show alone, but Luther’s complex relationship with the enigmatic yet terrifyingly dangerous Alice (Ruth Wilson) will have you begging for more. Once you’ve finished Luther, make sure to catch Luther: The Fallen Sun on Netflix, too.

New Tricks (2003-2015)

From left to right: James Bolman as Jack Halford, Alun Armstrong as Brian Lane, Amanda Redman as Detective Superintendent Sanda Pullman, and Dennis Waterman as Gerry Standing in New Tricks

If you’re ever in the mood for something a little bit more comedic, look no further than New Tricks, a procedural police drama about Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) and her team of retired police detectives. Together, they’re part of UCOS (Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad), a “specialized” team set up to tackle unsolved cold cases for London’s Metropolitan Police. Sandra is headstrong, while her team members are all stuck in their old ways, but together, they make one hell of an investigative team.

River (2015)

Stellan Skarsgård in the River miniseries

In an interview with The Guardian, River star Stellan Skarsgård once said, “I’ve turned down every other cop show”—so why did he choose to do this one? Because River is not a straightforward police procedural drama. While dark and mysterious investigations move forward in the background, River is also focused on one detective’s inability to deal with his grief and hallucinations. There’s so much more here than meets the eye in this one-off miniseries, and as we all know, Skarsgård always delivers.

Jonathan Creek (1997-2016)

Caroline Quentin as Maddy Magellan and Alan Davies as Jonathan Creek in Jonathan Creek

Jonathan Creek is a whodunnit with a twist—the man who solves the crimes isn’t a detective but rather a magician, whose love of mysteries is trumped only by his love of Harry Houdini. Creek (Alan Davies), together with his original partner in crime, a pushy investigative journalist named Maddy Magellan (Caroline Quentin), solves a series of seemingly supernatural crimes with his uncanny understanding of the art of illusion. Jonathan Creek is a fun, compelling, and genuinely beloved show, so if you’re looking for a new obsession, look no further. Also, Creek lives in a windmill. How cool is that?

The Bay (2019-Present)

Marsha Thomason as D.S. Jenn Townsend and Daniel Ryan as D.I. Tony Manning in The Bay

The Bay explores that all-important question: what happens when an investigator gets too emotionally involved in a case? In the first two seasons, it’s Family Liaison Officer Lisa Armstrong’s (Morven Christie) strength that’s being tested as she becomes deeply involved in a missing persons case and a shocking murder. From season 3 onwards, Marsha Thomason joins the fray as DS Jenn Townsend, who must gain the trust of two bereaved families to solve the deaths of their loved ones.

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (2001-2007)

Nathaniel Parker as Thomas Lynley in The Inspector Lynely Mysteries

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries is a fantastic example of one of the genre’s greatest tropes: the unlikely yet utterly successful crime-solving duo. In this case, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries pairs together upper-class, aristocratic Oxford graduate Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley (Nathaniel Parker) with working-class, disgruntled Detective Sergeant Barbara Havens (Sharon Small). Though it takes them a while to find their working rhythm, the duo soon becomes unstoppable.

Inspector Morse (1987-2000)

John Thaw as Chief Inspector More in Inspector Morse

ITV’s Endeavour is quite possibly one of the best detective dramas ever made—but it wouldn’t have been produced without its predecessor, Inspector Morse, another undeniable British classic. John Thaw stars as the titular Chief Inspector Morse, a gruff yet brilliant detective who, together with his partner Detective Sergeant Lewis (Kevin Whately, who you can watch as a DI himself in the sequel series Lewis), solves various tragic and complex crimes in the beautiful city of Oxford.

Waking The Dead (2000-2011)

From left to right: Sue Johnston as Dr. Grace Foley, Wil Johnson as DI Spencer Jordan, Trevor Eve as DSU Peter Boyd, Tara Fitzgerald as Dr. Eve Lockhart in Waking the Dead

If you’re looking for something truly gripping, look no further. Waking the Dead sees a team of talented detectives, forensic scientists, and a psychological profiler tackle some of London’s most harrowing and violent cold cases. It’s fast-paced, thrilling, and sometimes even downright terrifying, so if you’re in the mood for something a little less light-hearted, then this is the show for you.

McDonald & Dodds (2020-Present)

Tala Gouveia as DCI McDonald and Jason Watkins as DS Dodds in McDonald & Dodds

McDonald & Dodds is another great example of an unlikely yet highly successful crime-solving duo. This time, it’s ambitious and results-driven DCI Lauren McDonald (Tala Gouveia), who gets paired with the detail-oriented and somewhat eccentric DS Dodds (Jason Watkins). Filmed on location in the gorgeous city of Bath, McDonald & Dodds is the perfect mystery series for a cozy day in—and season 4 is currently on the way, so there’s no better time to get caught up.

Happy sleuthing!

(featured image: BBC/ITV/Britbox)

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El Kuiper
El (she/her) has been working as a freelance writer for various entertainment websites for over a year, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV and franchises like Marvel, but she is happy to pitch in with gaming content once in a while if it concerns one of the few video games she actually knows anything about. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.

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